Saturday, September 13, 2014
I know that the can label is essentially camo, but the orange makes it really appealing to me for some reason. This is the second Realtree energy drink I have had and this one, believe or not, contains even MORE sugar than the Arctic Ice one I had earlier.
Well with a name like Blaze Orange, what do you think this energy drink tastes like? Yup...orange with a twist of tangerine thrown in at the end. The first couple of sips were very refreshing and felt great as the first beverage of the morning after a night of drinking. However, once the flavor settled, the sweetness came up and stuck around until the very end. Unlike Arctic Ice which was very sweet, this flavor is EXTREMELY sweet. There are 68 grams of sugar in the can, all from high fructose corn syrup. In fact it is so sweet that after a few sips the sweetness overpowers most of the flavor.
The only saving grace is the slightly acidic orange which cuts the sweetness in the aftertaste just a tiny notch down. If it wasn't for that, I think the sweetness will be unbearable.
Like the Arctic Ice, there are 160 mg of caffeine in the can and just like it the rush comes in quick, the jitters are strong and the overall energy is just very rough. If you are using this for outdoor activities, it will work great, however, if you need the energy for concentration, I would suggest to get something else with less sugar and a bit more refined energy delivery method.
Cost - $3
Taste - 7.5/10
Energy - 8/10
Overall - 15.5/20...sooo very sweet
Saturday, August 16, 2014
Realtree, from what I gather, is an outdoors apparel company that is upfront about people licensing the use of the name and brand for whatever reason. As such I found everything from cell phone cases to beard trimmers to even vehicles and boats bearing the Realtree logo and brand. So then I guess I shouldn't be surprised that they also offer energy drinks, but I am. Why? Because there aren't just one or two different generic kinds of the energy drink...there are 7! Unfortunately for me, the WalMart I was at only carried 3 of them at the time, but oh well, better try 3 than none...amirite?
Without reading the label or anything about this drink online, I honestly expected Arctic Ice to be sugar free and have that sharp citrus note with a bit of a peppery burn. Oh boy...I could not have been more wrong. Arctic Ice is blue and tastes like a very, very sweet blue raspberry soda. Like....very, very sweet soda and the label confirmed it, indicating the presence of 56 grams of sugar. I cannot stress enough how sweet this drink is. It is so sweet I had to pause for 5 minutes every 1/3 of the can. A bit of water certainly helped bring the sweetness down a notch. I mean, a can of this stuff is 20% of your recommended daily intake of carbs! I know Coke has a lot of sugar, but it does not taste as sweet as this stuff.
Reading the label, I also discovered that this drink is essentially water, corn syrup, coloring, caffeine and preservatives. Very American if I am being honest.
The one thing this label does not indicate is how much caffeine is in the can, but a short internet search revealed that there are 80 mg of caffeine per serving. Applying some basic math, we get that there are 160 mg of caffeine per can since there are 2 servings. That's actually what I expected since the rule of thumb is 160mg/473 mL.
Since there is so much sugar in this drink, the jitters are strong, come in quick and stay for a loooong time. But once the caffeine kicks, you get that too-much-energy feeling for a few hours and then it dies off. In my case, since I had this first thing in the morning after a good sleep, I experienced a very mild crash that I can probably chalk up to just being tired from lunch.
Cost - $3 from WalMart
Taste - 7/10
Energy - 8/10
Overall - 15/20...very, very sweet with a sugary rush
Monday, August 11, 2014
Remember when Rockstar Punched first came out? It was years ago and you can still find it in the same can at most stores. This was one of the first energy drinks I reviewed on this blog since it was just so easily accessible back then. Well 5-6 years later comes out the zero calorie, zero sugar version. This one is not yet available in Canada and have no idea if there are any plans to make it available here. I found a can at Meijer in Michigan, right next to the Silver Ice I reviewed recently.
The taste is very similar to the original version except a tiny bit less sweet. Don't worry though, if you like your sweetness, there is enough thanks to the artificial sweeteners. The flavor is your typical fruit punch with very hard, if not impossible, to identify individual fruit flavors. It all just blends together.
As expected, the aftertaste carries a lot of the artificial sweetener taste with some of the sweet fruit punch. There is not much more that could be said about this one. I personally was a little disappointed, because after so many years and so many awesome flavors over the years, I thought that Rockstar is going to somehow modify the fruit punch to make it awesome, but it is just plain fruit punch.
Unlike the Silver Ice, which I fell in love with recently, this one has the standard 160 mg of caffeine in the can. Silver Ice had 240 mg! The delivery is very standard for an energy drink of this size and kind - initial , effects are felt within 10-15 minutes of the first few sips, there are very, very mild jitters and then comes the caffeine which lasts about 3-4 hours and finishes without a crash.
Overall, the fruit punch flavor is the same as it was 5-6 years ago, but the energy delivery is a lot smoother thanks to the lack of sugar.
Cost - $2
Taste - 8.2/10
Energy - 8/10
Overall - 16.2/20...same fruit punch flavor as the original version, better energy delivery
Saturday, August 9, 2014
This energy drink is not yet available in Canada and have absolutely no idea when it will come or if it even makes its way here. I got this from a Meijer grocery store somewhere in Michigan for $2.
Citrus...this is totally citrus fruit packed from start to finish. It starts off with a strong and very well executed orange flavor and then moves to a combination of orange, tangerine and lime, each of which are clearly defined. I was blown away by how well each of the flavors was done as it almost reminded me of drinking their freshly squeezed juices. Amazing! The balance was also just right - not too sweet, not too plain, just right.
Wait, the flavor is not the only good part. The aftertaste was suspiciously pleasant. There was very little of the sweetener which is the one thing that stops me from drinking diet drinks. But this energy drink...wow...I couldn't even taste that from the first few sips. Maybe after sip 4 or 5 I started getting that slightly sweet artificial sweetener note.
Overall - very impressed by the Silver Ice.
Amazingly, there are 240 mg of caffeine in the can. Did manufacturers start to pack more caffeine all of the sudden? If they did, great for us and good for them for finding a way to get more of the good stuff without sacrificing the flavor. Remember years ago when the more caffeine you had, the worse the drink tasted? I remember drinking energy drinks with 200 mg of caffeine where you could really taste the bitterness. Well, no more bitterness my friends!
Silver Ice's energy delivery is amazingly smooth for the amount of caffeine there is, however, you will have to pace yourself when consuming it. I felt a clean buzz within 10 minutes of taking the first few sips. I suddenly felt sharper and more focused for 10-15 minutes without any of the jitters. Wow, it was amazing. I don't think I have felt this from such a mass produced drink in a while. After the initial 25 or so minutes, you start to feel a bit more energetic and you really want to get up and run around. Not that I did that, but that's what I wanted to do. The effects last for 4-5 hours and there is no crash at the end.
As I mentioned earlier, pace yourself for the smooth delivery. If you chug this all at once, then you will experience some jitters and be uncomfortably energetic. You have to feed in the caffeine over the course of 25-30 minutes. Get some ice if you want the energy drink to stay cold.
Again, I am very impressed with this drink and I will definitely buy more when I cross the border.
Cost - $2 from Meijer
Taste - 9/10
Energy - 9.5/10
Overall - 18.5/20...clean and well executed taste with a ton of caffeine
Monday, August 4, 2014
It is official, Glaceau released a line of Vitamin Water energy drinks which come in 340 mL containers and in 3 different flavors. For now the release is limited to the US and to certain retailers and luckily I just happened to be in the US the week these were released. I got 6 cans for $12 thanks to Target's 2 for $4 promotion.
Hazy, light orange in color with a veeeeeery weak aroma mango-like/tropical fruit aroma. The taste is bolder and sweeter than the non-carbonated waters with the orange at the start and the mango coming in behind and finishing it off. The flavors seem natural at first when you are drinking, but once you finish, a very generic, fruity flavor sets in the aftertaste alongside artificial sweetener. The artificial sweetener is very sweet and dominant at first but after 20-30 seconds it dies down a bit and you get more of the orange which at this -point tastes like the orange in a super generic carbonated orange soda drink. The mango is also present in the aftertaste but it is far less noticeable.
Overall, not too impressed with this one, but it does feel very refreshing first thing in the morning.
Taste - 7/10
This one threw me off completely. The can is green, but the contents are red. Sure, it is strawberry AND lime flavored, but my brain associates color with the first listed ingredient - strawberry, so I expected the can to be red.
Anyways, once I got past this color issue and took a sip I enjoyed it quite a bit. The strawberry flavor is the dominant one with lime being a close to distant second. The strawberry taste tastes real but because there is artificial sweetener, the overall flavor feels cheapened a little. The lime doesn't also taste that real, but it is those few bursts of fresh strawberries that save this flavor for me. If it wasn't for the strawberry, I wouldn't even consider trying this one again.
This one is better than the Orange Mango, but overall not by much. If there was no artificial sweetener and no lime, I think that this will be a winner.
Taste - 8/10
The taste is on the watery side, but at least what you taste seems real. Individual fruits seem unrecognizable at first, but after a few sips notes of blueberries and blackberries start to emerge here and there. Aside from the few notes, the blend is faceless but it just works well. Sweetness starts to build up mid way through the can and is especially noticeable in the aftertaste.
As with the other flavors, the artificial sweetener here is dominant in the aftertaste but there are some subtle hints of berries that remind you what you just consumed.
This Vitamin Water energy drink starts off great, but half way through the can turns into a sugary, watery mess making it very hard to distinguish individual berry notes. I was so impressed with it at first, but as I kept drinking it got worse and worse. I am not saying that this is a horrible tasting energy drink, but what I am saying is that it is disappointing.
Taste - 6.8/10
There are 80 mg of caffeine in the can and since there are 13 grams of sugar, you get a very mild sugar rush which I believe many may not even notice, especially if you are used to sugary drinks. I felt like I could get some jitters and though I didn't with any of the drinks, I felt like I was on the verge.
The effects kick in within 10-15 minutes and build up over the next 10-15. The actual caffeine high lasts for about 1.5-2 hours and there is no crash at the end. Overall, the delivery is fairly clean which makes up for some of the taste.
Cost - 2 for $4 at Target and probably other retailers
Energy - 6.5/10
Overall - 13.3/20 to 14.5/20...average and not recommended for those who do not like Vitamin Water
Saturday, August 2, 2014
The cost right now is 2 for $5 and you can only get them in 355 mL containers so I would say that this is a pretty good bang for your buck considering that the 250 mL Red Bull retails for around $2.50 - $3 in Canada.
Summer is apparently associated with tropical fruits because this is what you get here. I find this a bit odd because where tropical fruits grow naturally, it is warm all year around so it feels like summer even if it is winter or fall or spring.
But back to the drink. The tropical flavor feels a bit generic but with the added acids and whatever Red Bull base mixture of chemicals was added, the flavor feels much crisper than other tropical energy drinks. For the most parts, the flavor seems like a faceless medley and it is very difficult to identify exact tropical fruits with the exception of tart mango. There are 39 grams of sugar in the can, but again, because of the acids, there is almost no sweet build up and the finish each sip has is relatively clean and crisp.
As I was drinking this Red Bull, I couldn't help but wonder where I have had something similar to this and then it came to me - Red Rain Tropical Mango. This generic brand of energy drinks released a tropical mango version years ago which also came in a yellow can and tasted very similar to this one. Does this make Red Bull the clone now?
As expected, you will find 114 mg of caffeine in this can, which is the standard amount of caffeine Red Bull puts in their cans. The effects are the same as with any other Red Bull - quick sugar rush, followed by medium long period of jitters, followed by a couple of hours (in the case of the larger container) of energy and then a mild crash.
Cost - 2 for $5 at 7-11
Taste - 8.5/10
Energy - 7/10
Overall - 15.5/20...crisp and refreshing, but a clone of Red Rain Tropical Mango
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Recently I had the chance to visit Vietnam and with me I brought all of the energy drinks that I could find in safe and clear plastic bottles. I wish I was able to bring all of the ones I had there, but many came in cans, glass bottles and even sealed plastic "to-go" cups. Normally I would have securely placed the glass bottles in my check-in luggage, but unfortunately on the way there our luggage was so roughly handled that a 1L bottle of scotch that I was bringing as a present was broken...sad. Therefore I could not take any risks and have anything fragile in my luggage. I did have some cans in my carry-on, but due to safety regulations which I completely forgot about, the containers had to be see through and as such the cans were disposed of by a friendly airport security lady.
Before I review these real quick, I should note that energy drinks are even more widely spread than in North America and are much cheaper than anything we have here. Red Bull (the Thai one) is sold absolutely everywhere where water and beer are sold. In fact, it seemed like Red Bull was a necessity right after water. A can of the stuff ran anywhere from $0.70 to $1.25 depending on the location.
Sting is made by Pepsi and from what I saw it comes in two different flavors - regular and strawberry. The regular one smells like Red Bull and tastes like a mix between Red Bull and a regular Monster, except sweeter than both. The aftertaste is candy-like sweet and feels "sticky" from all the sugar. The cough syrup flavor has been dialed down and there are no other obvious medicinal notes. Not the biggest fan of this one.
Taste - 6/10
This one smells like fresh strawberries and tastes EXACTLY like a red gummy bear. I mean, the energy drink is so sweet that it is just like drinking a melted down pile of red gummy bears. I like red gummy bears, but when I have to consume 330 mL of melted down gummies, I stopped liking them at about 1/3rd of the bottle. Ice helps, but you are still left with a sickly sweet aftertaste.
Taste - 6.2/10
You guessed it - another strawberry energy drink, but this one has a nasty plastic aroma with almost no strawberries in it. The taste is better and much less sweet than the strawberry Sting, but still sweeter than what I am used to. There is still a hint of the plastic taste, but it is much less than the aroma. There is also an odd undertone that is either more plastic or a medicinal ingredient. Not sure if this one is any better than the strawberry Sting, but I was able to consume a bit more of it before I got really tired of the sickly sweet taste.
Taste - 5.8/10
Another red drink and another strawberry energy drink...wait, nope, this is just borderline strawberry. It is a mix between a raspberry and a strawberry and probably my favorite of the 3 strawberry energy drinks. It is almost as sweet as the other ones, but that little bit less makes it much better to drink. Ice really helps down on the sweetness thanks to the tiny bit of water that melts and dilutes the flavor.
Taste - 6.5/10
Overall, all of these energy drinks, and all other ones I had in Vietnam are VERY sweet so it is recommended to consume them with ice or cold water unless you are into extremely sweet drinks.
Unlike energy drinks in North America, the Vietnamese energy drinks contain less caffeine and the contents are often reported on a 1 L basis. I have provided these concentrations and converted them to a "per bottle" basis below:
- Sting - 250 mg/L or 82.5 mg per bottle
- Sting Strawberry - 250 mg/L or 82.5 mg per bottle
- X2 - 220 mg/L or 72.6 mg per bottle
- Red Dragon - 190 mg/L or 62.7 mg per bottle
Yup, no energy drinks came even close to the numbers we are used to seeing.
Since all drinks are so sweet, the effects are immediate and headache inducing if you have more than a bottle at a time. You get an immediate sugar rush with a huge dose of jitters followed by about an hour of caffeine rush followed by a moderate to severe crash depending on your natural energy level.
Cost - $0.90
Energy - 5/10
Overall - 10.8/20 to 11.5/20...all were extremely sweet with a terrible sugar rush and a crash